One year ago today, the world lost a leader in the movement to end mass incarceration. Mujahid Farid died on November 20, 2018, at 69 years old, surrounded by his RAPP and Parole Preparation Project family in his apartment in the Bronx. Farid was a Co-Founder and former Director of RAPP and a trailblazer in the struggle to release older people from prison and end life imprisonment. He was our friend, family member, comrade, and so often our inspiration for doing this work. While we celebrate Farid’s life and continue to mourn over his death, we are also motivated by his personal struggle with long-term incarceration and his broader efforts to get others free as we continue our work for transformative reforms to the parole release process in New York State.
Release Aging People in Prison Campaign & Parole Preparation Project
Call for Fair & Timely Parole Act on One Year Anniversary of Mujahid Farid’s Death
Despite appearing before the Parole Board for the first time after receiving four college degrees, founding lifesaving in-prison programs, and having an overall prison record that exemplified transformation, the Board denied Farid parole release nine times over the course of 18 years. Instead of being released in his early-mid forties, Farid was finally released in his 60s after serving 33 years behind bars. In his short 7 years of life after his release, Farid and New Yorkers across the state helped make significant changes that led to more parole releases and reunited families. However, despite these significant gains, the very same issues that Farid faced before the Parole Board persist today.
Thousands of people in New York State prisons continue to languish behind bars years and decades beyond their minimum sentences. The Parole Board continues to deny parole to people who have transformed their lives and who could instantly become community leaders if only they had a chance at freedom. Everyday, people in New York State prisons are growing older, sick, and dying. This injustice must end once and for all. To that end, we call on the New York State legislature to pass the Fair & Timely Parole Act (S.497A/A.4346A) in the 2020 legislative session.
Fair & Timely Parole would ensure that the parole release process is New York State is based on who people are today, as opposed to just the nature of their crime of conviction. It provides for a fairer and more forward looking assessment of peoples’ current suitability for release and removes harmful language from state executive law that effectively allows the Parole Board to re-sentence people. We call on lawmakers in Albany to support and pass this bill as soon as they return to Albany on January 8th as one of many ways to honor Farid’s legacy and promote justice in New York State.
Please join us on January 14th, 2020, to rally for passage of this bill and to honor Farid’s legacy.
Photo of Mujahid Farid by Michelle Lewin